WE WIN primarily serves youth ages 5-18. We offer year-round programs that provide academic and social support that utilizes a multi-cultural and afro-centric approach to education. Our programs provide:


•    Knowledge of culture and history;

•    Assistance with academics;

•    Community service;

•    Changing values and behaviors – Leadership; Health; Conflict Resolution; Self-Esteem;

•    Respect for self, families, and community;

•    Parent involvement;

•    Positive adult relationships.


Parents, mentors, and educators guide adolescents through the process of becoming self-affirming and confident young adults. Successfully completing the Rites of Passage steps and activities lets the young people know that they can accomplish goals through consistent and hard work. The program objectives of the Rites of Passage programs are straightforward and simple  to continue to reduce the high levels of unexcused absences, suspensions, tardiness, and truancy of student participants in the Rites of Passage programs.


The challenges of African American students goes beyond test scores and grades – in school after school, African American students, especially boys, have the highest rates of absenteeism, truancy, and suspensions (three-fourths of all suspensions are African Americans). Over fifty percent of African American boys drop out prior to graduation.


WE WIN utilizes a culturally-specific and culturally-driven approach to education and behavior change. We recognize that the academic and social problems of African American students are connected – that it is difficult to address academic and social problems without addressing the social and personal problems of the students. The pedagogical approach of WE WIN supplements our academic program with classes and activities on African and African American history, culture, and traditions; community service; and adult mentors from the community. 

Rites of Passage
After School Program


The Rites of Passage programs for boys and girls are designed to guide, inform, and inspire youth in their transition from adolescence to adulthood. Students are taken through a series of activities and steps that allow them to demonstrate their abilities to be successful academically and socially. We believe that when children are able to see themselves being successful, they begin to believe in themselves and they can set ambitious goals, including completing high school and college. Emphasis is placed on mastering those skills and responsibilities that come with adulthood – self discipline, academic success, leadership, knowledge of history and culture, family values, self-esteem, and health and community service.


WE WIN’s Rites of Passage programs have:

  • Reduced suspensions in participating schools by an average of 47 percent;

  • Reduced truancies by an average of 71 percent;

  • Reduced unexcused absences by an average of 35 percent; and

  • Reduced tardiness by an average of 31 percent.  

Women / Men of Distinction


Starting at Cooper High School during the 2008-09 school year was a new initiative called “Women of Distinction” Mentoring Program. The goal of the mentoring program is for African American girls to develop positive peer relationships necessary to support each other towards becoming capable, responsible, and determined women. To achieve this goal, junior and senior high school girls are matched with ninth grade girls to provide academic and social mentoring throughout the school year. The focus is to assist ninth graders in being successful in a high school setting. The program began with mentors learning about each other and learning about WE WIN Institute. Through the Circle process, they share their stories. Many share about the struggles and pains in their lives. They allow themselves to be vulnerable and even share tears together. This sisterhood has led to incredible results with nearly ALL of our young women participants graduating high school and going to college! 


“Women of Distinction” is dedicated to increasing self-esteem.  Its self-created mission is, “To promote academic and social success through layered mentoring, sisterhood, culture and community.” Bonding is an intentional part of this program that fosters self-esteem. Bonding experiences have included: overnights in hotels, movie nights, dinner engagements, and college tours. These experiences helped the young women develop a strong senses of sisterhood. 


Women of Distinction program continues as it closes in on a decade of positive results. 

Summer Enrichment Program

The summer is a time when our children have consistently fallen behind academically. With this in mind, our Summer Enrichment Program enlightens the youth academically with rich cultural learning that is directly correlated with the Minnesota State Standards. The Summer Program offers a variety of academic, social, and specialty classes which include but are not limited to; step class, computers, photography, mural painting, sewing, and storytelling. Also, since our inception in 1995, WE WIN has used the African drums (djembe, djun-djun, kinkin, & sangba) as an instrument of cultural learning. We have contracted djembe teachers that work with our children.


The Summer Program is held for free and normally runs four hours Mondays through Thursdays, June through August. The program includes weekly field trips to explore new places, things, ideas, and experiences, community service, and a few WE WIN gardens which is a place where children till, plant, grow and maintain an organic garden. Children are able to learn the importance of committing to a healthy eating lifestyle (more on gardens below).

Youth Gardens
(Component of Summer Program)

Youth Gardens have proven to be a wonderful tool to show urban youth the importance of growing your own food and the direct impacts on our environment.


Our key goals for Youth Gardens are to: Increase youth knowledge in basic nutrition terms and garden language, Increase the number of urban youth who participate in community gardens, and help urban youth develop a sense of accomplishment through growing, cultivating, and harvesting food, and youth will gain environmental citizenship skill sets.


With three gardens a year to take care of, when the time comes to harvest our crops came, other opportunities arise, like entrepreneurship. Our children experience selling their produce at various farmers markets.

Parents Make the Academic Difference (P.M.A.D)

Parents Make the Academic Difference (PMAD) was built on the Parent Circle model.  PMAD is a pilot initiative that is designed to empower parents to support their children. It equips parents with tools to effectively advocate for their children, academically and socially. It utilizes increased parent engagement as a tool to create academic success for children, community and parent engagement, and a shift in behavior for the students.  


The program worked with parents of the children enrolled in WE WIN’s Rites of Passage program.  It is designed to foster parent participation in building a positive future for themselves, their families and their communities. PMAD is creating policies that encourage and promote parents inclusion in the educational process. 


PMAD’s Program Outcomes:

  • Promote strategies that support parents, communities, and school systems in working together toward shared goals of educational equity.
  • Develop parent recommended policies that support increased parent engagement and student success.
  • Utilize parents to inform the community and MPS School Board about their results with PMAD.



"Parental participation plays a major role in student success at home, in school and at WE WIN. Parents of WE WIN students meet every month in the “Parents Make the Academic Difference,” program. They discuss concerns and get support and counsel on effective ways to work with school officials. WE WIN is also there to accompany parents to their child’s school if additional support is needed.


There are good parents and good teachers, all of whom are doing their best, sometimes under less than ideal circumstances. They are committed to investing in children for the future. But when they need an additional resource to support their efforts and bolster their child’s self-awareness, WE WIN is there to help."

[quoted paragraphs from Henceforth, LLC]